L.A. Clippers

Best of NBA: Cousins erupts in return to Sacramento; Griffin hits buzzer-beater

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Best of NBA: Cousins erupts in return to Sacramento; Griffin hits buzzer-beater

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- DeMarcus Cousins immediately scored after winning the opening tip and never stopped on the way to 41 points and 23 rebounds, and the emotional big man dominated his old team to rally the New Orleans Pelicans past the Kings 114-106 on Thursday night in his highly anticipated return.

Cousins took the crowd at Golden 1 Center on a trip down memory lane, then left them with some heartache after a spectacular performance. He waved to his supportive former home fans as highlights showed of his time in California's capital.

He hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:21 to play for a 108-106 lead and the Pelicans held on -- and Cousins finally got some help in a second-half comeback after New Orleans trailed by 14 at intermission playing without injured star Anthony Davis.

Jameer Nelson contributed 18 points with four 3-pointers with Davis sidelined with a left knee injury sustained at Portland on Tuesday. The Pelicans were down 70-56 at halftime with Cousins largely a one-man show already with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

De'Aaron Fox scored 14 points off the bench to lead seven Kings in double figures (see full recap).

Griffin 3 at the buzzer gives Clippers victory
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Blake Griffin made a 3-pointer as time expired and the Los Angeles Clippers remained unbeaten with a 104-103 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Griffin, who scored 16 of his 25 points during the fourth quarter, got the ball on the left side of the floor and hit the 3-pointer just inside the line, the game's sixth lead change during the final two minutes.

DeAndre Jordan had seven points and 18 rebounds for Los Angeles, which at 4-0 is one of two unbeaten teams remaining in the NBA. Danilo Gallinari and Austin Rivers had 16 points apiece for the Clippers.

Damian Lillard scored 14 of his 25 points during the third quarter for Portland (3-2). C.J. McCollum had 23 points, but missed one of two free throws with five seconds remaining that could have given the Blazers a three-point lead.

All five Portland starters scored in double figures. Ed Davis had 10 rebounds (see full recap).

Horford, Irving help Celtics top Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Al Horford had 27 points and nine rebounds, and the Boston Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks 96-89 on Thursday night.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and seven assists for Boston, which avenged a loss to Milwaukee in Boston earlier this month.

The game was played at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, formerly known as the MECCA, which served as the Bucks' home from 1968 until the team moved into the Bradley Center in 1988.

The Bucks chose to play one game this season at the 11,000-seat arena to mark the franchise's 50th anniversary. The team will move into a new arena next season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points for Milwaukee. Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon added 15 apiece (see full recap).

NBA Notes: Cavaliers part ways with general manager David Griffin

NBA Notes: Cavaliers part ways with general manager David Griffin

CLEVELAND -- David Griffin's run with the Cleveland Cavaliers is over after one championship and three straight trips to the NBA Finals.

The general manager and team mutually parted ways on Monday when owner David Gilbert said Griffin's contract will not be extended once it expires June 30.

"On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Griff for his leadership and many contributions during his time here, including most recently, his role in the franchise's first NBA Championship," Gilbert said in a statement. "We have no announcement at this time related to new leadership of the Cavaliers basketball operations group, but we are confident our current front office will continue to aggressively explore and pursue opportunities to improve our team in the weeks ahead."

Griffin's departure comes three days before the draft -- the Cavs are currently without a pick -- and on the eve of free agency.

The 47-year-old Griffin had been Cleveland's GM since May 2014. He took over the role on a full-time basis after serving as an interim GM for three months following Chris Grant's firing.

Griffin oversaw the team's return to prominence after LeBron James came back from Miami. Griffin orchestrated the trade that brought Kevin Love from Minnesota, and he bolstered the Cavs' roster with other trades and free agent signings.

Griffin was the fourth GM to work for Gilbert, who bought the Cavs in 2005 (see full story).

Clippers: West officially hired as consultant
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Hall of Famer Jerry West, fresh off helping the Golden State Warriors win another NBA championship, is now officially a consultant with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The former longtime Lakers player and front office executive credited Clippers coach Doc Rivers, Executive Vice President Lawrence Frank and owner Steve Ballmer with convincing him the other team in town was the right fit.

West called leaving Golden State one of the "saddest days of his life" because he thought he might be done. West had been with the Warriors since 2011 and the team has won two NBA titles during his time in the Bay Area.

The Clippers found a need for his help, and he found a new challenge. The Clippers have yet to win an NBA championship or advance to the Western Conference Finals (see full story).

Warriors: Kerr to pursue more answers for health issues
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr will be given time throughout the summer to explore medical options that could alleviate the symptoms he still experiences nearly two years after a spinal fluid leak from back surgery.

General manager Bob Myers said Monday that Kerr would have time off as needed to find more options to better his long-term health, and Kerr said he would be traveling to do so. The GM said: "I think at the point we're at now, it's what makes you 5-10-15 percent better? And that's what he's going to pursue and explore with our blessing."

The 51-year-old Kerr returned from a six-week absence for Game 2 of the NBA Finals and coached the rest of the way as Golden State won its second championship in three seasons. He stepped away after Game 2 against Portland in the first round of the playoffs (see full story).

NBA: Nowitzki to serve as captain in league’s Africa game
NEW YORK -- Dirk Nowitzki, the career scoring leader among international players, will be one of the captains for the NBA's Africa Game on Aug. 5.

The league and the National Basketball Players Association announced Monday that the Dallas Mavericks star will be a co-captain of Team World along with Charlotte Hornets All-Star Kemba Walker. Team Africa will be captained by the Lakers' Luol Deng, who is from the South Sudan, and Atlanta's Thabo Sefolosha, whose father is from South Africa.

Nowitzki is a 13-time All-Star. Last season, the German became the first international player with 30,000 career points.

The game will take place in Johannesburg. A full roster of players and coaches will be announced at a later date.